Ex-Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia gets 5 years in jail for corruption

Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), is expected to appeal against the verdict, but it may affect her ability to stand in a general election slated for December.

Reacting to the sentencing of her arch-rival, Prime Minister Hasina said, the case as natural consequences of Zia's past deeds and accused her of looting public property and burning to death over 500 people in a "demonstration of extreme brutality".

Zia was immediately taken to jail after her sentencing.

The court also sentenced Zia's eldest son and BNP's senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman to 10 years in jail.

Tarique Rahman has been staying in London ever since he left the country in 2008 shortly after he was freed from the jail during the military-controlled emergency government.

Bangladesh law says anyone imprisoned for more than two years can not run for office for the next five years, but Huq noted that the final decision rests with the courts.

Tthe BNP told DW the ruling was politically motivated.

She said the trial process of the former prime minister was transparent.

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The ex-premier on 30 November, 2014, lost her last-ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the Supreme Court turned down her second "leave to appeal" petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.

"This is a false and staged case. The main evidence for this case is totally created".

"The verdict proves no one is above the law", Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Haque said after the verdict was announced amid tight security.

It is an argument that Hasina may not have been totally averse to, even as she has exponentially expanded her influence during the last four years of her prime ministership - muzzling the media, expanding the ambit of security forces in civilian spaces, and welcoming the Chinese into Bangladesh. "If the Awami League can use the opportunity to go to town over Khaleda's corruption, they can minimise the impact of anti-incumbency", the diplomat said, adding that the verdict in another corruption case involving Khaleda was lined up later this month. "So I think the rule of law has only been established". Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd in two spots, witnesses said.

In a country riven by dynastic politics, security forces fearing clashes poured into the streets ahead of the verdict, along with supporters of both major political parties.

Khaleda Zia outside the court in Dhaka.

"Khaleda Zia has been punished for corruption involving Tk 21 million".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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